[kwlug-disc] Wordpress themes must be GPL

Khalid Baheyeldin kb at 2bits.com
Mon Jul 26 15:42:02 EDT 2010

On Mon, Jul 26, 2010 at 1:40 PM, Andrew Kohlsmith (mailing lists account) <
aklists at mixdown.ca> wrote:

> On Monday, July 26, 2010 01:15:02 pm Khalid Baheyeldin wrote:
> > Even large venture capital funded companies (e.g. Alfresco) released
> their
> > product under a dual license (proprietary and GPL), then say that if time
> > goes back, they would
> > have picked another license, and that the GPL is not a good license for
> > companies.
> Do you have any links to this effect? I don't doubt it, but I'd like to
> read
> more about it.

Here is Matt Asay, who used to write a blog on CNET on Open Source,
and was an executive at Alfresco (an Open Source dual licensed Java
Enterprise Content Management system).

Alfresco relicensed as GPL here

He went from this:

To this:

Some further reading:

Asay has left Alfresco, and is now with Canonical,  the Ubuntu company.

There is also Brian Ackers who was on MySQL team, and founded Drizzle
(a web optimized modernized pluggable variant)

> > All of that time, the GPL helped make their code base and project popular
> > and successful. But then when they take that success for granted, they
> > think of what Apple has done with NetBSD, and they want to be able to
> > fully commercialize and make proprietary what was open for example, or
> > close off sections of their code.
> Apple would have had *no* problem with a GPL'd kernel.  Their magic isn't
> in
> what they've added to the kernel, it's in userspace, under their closed
> source.


And many other companies do not care that Linux is GPL, they use
it for their proprietary stuff (e.g. routers, cell phones, ...etc.).

Their stuff would be in user space, and that is allowed by all
of the GPL that I know. Companies sell proprietary stuff (Oracle, DB/2) that
runs in user space. The GPL conflicts for the kernel almost always are
to drivers.

But when you move to stuff that is interpreted and shares process space
Wordpress or Drupal interpreted via PHP which runs inside Apache), things
get more interesting. Is your module or theme "derived work"?

I explained my  opinion on the legal aspect of it earlier in this thread,
and also
about the pragmatic aspect of it.

I don't really buy into the "developers need a way to make money so they
> don't
> have to continuously work" because the nature of their industry is the same
> as
> that of many others; you perform work, you get paid for said work.  The
> only
> way I really see to getting out of that "hours for dollars" exchange is to
> sell something over and over again.  If you're "only" a developer then the
> only thing you have to sell is your ability to code.
> It's difficult to sell something you're giving the code away for, because
> that's
> "all" the thing is -- the code.

Then don't give it away? And don't write extensions to GPL software then
about the license ...

If you are in an ecosystem, there is a lot that you get that is partially
by the GPL, such as a large community, visibility, marketing, clients,

When you ride that wave, you play by the rules and give back your extensions
under the same license.

Otherwise, write it from scratch under a proprietary license and then sell
it any way you want.

> You need to package it into something that
> has greater value than the binary itself; that's of course where the
> maintenance or service contracts come into play, same with training and so
> on.
> But what kind of developer wants to do that? The developer wants to code.

I used to think like that, and even tried it for a while.

I found that going to services is best, and freeing the software.

See my post earlier in this thread.

> Use due diligence and common sense, as well as business acumen and legal
> > advice. That is all.
> I don't think many businessmen particularly care about the software
> license;
> they are too busy selling the value.  Even if someone takes the code and
> runs,
> you're still selling the service, the expertise, etc.  Sure, you will lose
> some sales, but the truly price-conscious were probably never really strong
> customers to begin with.

I agree that business people sell value, but they do care about the license

Why is there such a thing as the BSA then? Why do they police proprietary
usage (pirated or borrowed?)

Why do we see lawsuits where due diligence was not done for copyright?

> And now, let us go back to "how should FOSS developers put food on the
> > table".
> >
> > The proper answer is long and has been hashed and rehashed before, but
> let
> > me respond with a counter argument: how does a non-FOSS developer who
> does
> > not operate their own business put food on the table"? The rights to what
> > he writes has been taken over by the corporation he works for, and he can
> > be laid off any time because of market conditions, company faltering, CEO
> > embezzling, ...etc. ? What assurance does he have if he gets sick after
> he
> > is laid off?
> I believe you hit the nail on the head. You need to sell something worth
> selling, and if you aren't willing to make a business out of it (and hire
> or
> become a business manager), then you're going to be trading hours for
> dollars.
> I don't think there's a way around it.
> License has almost nothing to do with the dilemma.
Khalid M. Baheyeldin
2bits.com, Inc.
Drupal optimization, development, customization and consulting.
Simplicity is prerequisite for reliability. --  Edsger W.Dijkstra
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. --   Leonardo da Vinci
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